Not only will Saudi Arabia be home to the world’s largest hotel, but there are other major developments happening on the ground which are set to see the country become a hub for tourism and hospitality, to rival world-leading destinations including London, New York, Paris and Dubai.
Saudi was the 19th most visited country in the world and saw over 16 million tourists in 2014, in the most part due to religious tourism. The Saudi government has announced plans to double this figure by 2030 with expansions at Jeddah airport, where the majority of pilgrims arrive, and a new railway linking the major cities of Makkah and Madinah, home to the holy mosques.
The King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) project is also said to be a major driver for tourist growth. Fahd Al Rasheed, Group CEO of KAEC recently said in an interview with Arabian Business [http://ow.ly/XcDEA]: “My forecast for 2016 is that Saudi Arabia will enter the leisure and tourism sector in a significant way to capture its potential.”
“…KAEC is a 181 million square metre privately developed city on the Red Sea, 90 kilometres north of Jeddah, with the goal of housing 2 million people when it is completed. KAEC is currently planning to attract more than 1 million tourists to the city by 2020 (3.5 million by 2025), by developing 36 new tourism and leisure projects, including world class water parks, zoos, amusement parks, exhibition centres, a world class golf course, equestrian trails, recreation clubs, and ten new hotels and resorts.”
An interesting point also made in this article that Saudi Arabia is home to the “majestic” Red Sea, “one of the most beautiful natural resources in the world”; “with an unparalleled marine environment”. On this subject, Fahd Al Rasheed added: “We will leverage this asset in a very ecofriendly manner to protect it for future generations and create many attractions that allow visitors to experience its many wonders.”
Saudi is leading the Middle East and Africa with regards to the number of hotel rooms currently under construction (34,415 rooms in 72 hotels as of November 2015), as international hotel chains enter Saudi for the first time (e.g. Jumeriah Group; Swiss International) or further into Saudi (Hilton Worldwide; Accor) in anticipation of the increased number of tourists forecast. We are looking forward to the future of our event, The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, which is growing with the market. If you have any comments on the future of tourism and hospitality in Saudi Arabia please let us know what you think.